“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” ~Daisaku Ikeda
Ever found yourself in a rut, just waiting for some force of the Universe to pull you out?
When ennui sets in, it can be hard to find a way back into the light, but it typically takes a series of events and choices for us to be living a life out of sync with our personal goals, values, and passions.
Last year, I found myself in one of these ruts. After spinning my wheels for quite some time, I realized my so-called attempts at improving my circumstances were a farce—I was just exhausting my energy waiting for a savior to come to my rescue.
Finally, when that savior never came, I snapped out of it and acknowledged I don't live in some fantasy novel, and can't invoke, by sheer will, a knight in shining armor. As Alice Sebold wrote in her memoir, Lucky, “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”
At the time, I was in a job I had long outgrown. A job that no longer provided challenge, growth, or even companionship. This alone had come to impact everything else in my life.
Spending solitary day after solitary day was taking its toll, zapping my energy. By the end of the day, I no longer had anything left and didn't want to do the things I normally enjoyed, like yoga or meeting with friends. I even struggled to regularly apply to new positions, disappointed and despairing with each rejection.
Since I had just completed my masters program, I felt even more frustrated at my prospects. Had I just wasted three years of my life pursuing a degree that didn't fit with my values or goals? Would I need to go to school all over again?
Too many unanswered questions left me feeling hopeless and unmotivated.
Then I met Hazel, a career coach I instantly connected with. It took me a few months, but I finally called her to schedule a session.
Hazel helped me work through my self-limiting beliefs, determine my values—and value—and recognize that I could live authentically right now. I didn't have to start from scratch.
Here's what I learned:
1. Take the long way home.
Sometimes it takes a literal change in perspective to change your mental perspective. During a week when my car was in the shop, I decided to walk home instead of catching the bus.
It was raining outside, and the walk was at least seven miles, but I had nowhere to be. Some of the roads I took were roads I'd never taken before and some I'd driven many times. All of them were new to me that day.
When I first moved to Denver, I walked everywhere, and everything was magical because it was new and special and offered up so much possibility. After being here for three years, the novelty had worn off and it was familiar—and the magic and possibility I felt at twenty-four seemed to have worn off with it.
This walk brought me back the basics and opened my heart back up to the magic. I didn't have to move to a new place, a place that would also inevitably become home and lose its magic if I let it. I just had to change my perspective.
When we get bored or restless, we don't necessarily have to move on. By taking the long way home, I fell back in love with my town, and by changing my physical perspective, I was able to see all of the possibilities that had been there all along.
I highly encourage movement to be a part of your daily life. Like anyone else, I can and will find excuses not to get outdoors or to yoga, but when I do, I feel recharged, centered, and empowered. Movement does this faster and better than anything else I've found.
There's a funny saying that if you stand on your head for a few minutes every day, you'll change your perspective. I think this goes movement, too. When you shift your focus through movement, you start to see things a little differently, and the possibilities open up again.
3. Surround yourself with the right people.
There's nothing wrong with relating to people or venting every now and again, but it's also important to surround yourself with people and conversations that leverage enthusiasm, excitement, and satisfaction. Spend time with people who build you up, see and encourage your strengths, and who are, themselves, living authentically.
Energy is contagious, and if you're around positive energy and speaking with others in terms of positivity, you'll begin to restructure your thinking, and, ultimately, the way you see and experience the world around you.
4. Be present.
I know, I know—this one's been said before. But it can't be said enough. One of the main reasons people feel dissatisfaction with their life is because they're missing it.
When we're not present, we become a little numb.
Taking in this very moment as it is, truly engaging—rather than living in your head, thinking about what comes next, or brooding (or pining) over what has past—can really heighten your appreciation and keep you from feeling that sense of emptiness that results from living somewhere other than the here and now.
You may even be surprised by how easy it is to learn new things or remember pieces of information when you start to fully tune in.
5. Identify your values.
I had to identify human connection as one of my top values before I realized there was nothing wrong with me just because I couldn't work in isolation. Once I recognized what was vital to my emotional well-being, I could pursue a life that ensured my values were a part of my daily world.
What are your values? We often admire others and think we should be doing what they are doing to be successful and satisfied with our lives. In actuality, we probably admire them because they are living out their own truth. Authenticity is attractive, not quality X, Y or Z.
Look within, not to others, to find your values; once you do, figure out how they can be put into action so you are living your most authentic life, and start taking steps, large or small, to make them your reality.
6. Serve others.
Ever notice how a little time in your head can help clarify things, while too much time just makes everything murkier? Get out of there, already!
I hate to say it, but we (and I include myself in this statement) are a bit of a self-absorbed society. When we're always thinking about me, myself and I, we become quickly dissatisfied. Maybe it's too much time spent with unproductive thoughts or a lack of connectedness, but this self-absorption can quickly bring us down.
The surest way to stop thinking about yourself is to start thinking about someone else. When you do something for someone else—out of love, compassion or connectedness—not obligation, you might find you’ve forgotten your troubles, and life actually feels fuller, more meaningful.
I believe we are all connected and thus all have our own roles to play in which we contribute to the collective good. When we connect to that role, we simultaneously connect to our purpose and to each other, filling up that hollowness we can get when we're not feeling so in love with our life.
Falling back in love with your life requires a little determination and reflection, but mostly it’s about letting go and just tuning in—to your most authentic self and to the world and people around you.
Photo by bellaleb-photo